Articles Posted in Emergency Room Errors

An Indiana University Hospital did not violate a law prohibiting patient dumping when it sent a woman suffering from severe abdominal pain to another facility to have dying portions of her intestines removed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago declined to revive the lawsuit that Jodie Martindale’s husband filed against Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital under the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA or Treat Act) following his wife’s death. IU Health transferred Martindale to Community Healthcare Systems in Munster, Ind., after examining her. Martindale died at Community Hospital after ongoing intestinal surgery.

A panel of the Seventh Circuit rejected the argument that the Treatment Act required IU Health to stabilize Martindale before transferring her.

The panel acknowledged the Treatment Act generally bars a hospital from transferring a patient with an emergency medical condition if the patient has not been stabilized.
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Janice Ferguson-Jean, 36, was seen at the Kings County Hospital Center emergency room. After being treated there for elevated blood pressure, she was discharged and instructed to follow up at a clinic.

The following week, she was rushed back to the hospital and admitted for treatment of elevated blood pressure. After being treated for eight days, Ferguson-Jean died. She had been studying to become a teacher in the United States Virgin Islands and was survived by her husband and 12-year-old daughter.

The Ferguson-Jean family sued the hospital’s owner and operator, alleging that it chose not to diagnose and treat ischemic heart disease, which was a cause of her death. The defendant denied liability and responsibility.
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Ms. Doe, 36, went to a hospital emergency department complaining of severe flank or side pain. She underwent testing and was diagnosed as having a kidney stone in her ureter.

Ms. Doe’s test results were allegedly equivocal and showed bacteria in her urine as well as an elevated white blood cell count, which is a sign of infection. However, Ms. Doe was discharged from the emergency room and sent home.

Ms. Doe’s condition worsened. She suffered septic shock, the last stage of infection. Ms. Doe returned to the hospital where she underwent surgery to remove the blockage in her ureter. Despite this treatment, Ms. Doe developed ischemia in her extremities and required surgery to remove necrotic dead or dying tissue.
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Laurence Seng was seen at a hospital emergency room where he complained of a persistent cough, chest heaviness and burning following an outpatient urological procedure.

Seng, who vomited in the ER, was administered a gastrointestinal cocktail in an effort to relieve his chest symptoms. However, his pain level increased. An osteopath, Dr. Joseph Robinson, diagnosed Seng as having a persistent cough and discharged him to home the same evening.

At home, Seng continued to experience chest heaviness and developed a racing heart. The next morning, his wife discovered that he was unresponsive. Seng, 66, died of a myocardial infarction. He was survived by his wife and four adult children. Seng’s wife, individually and on behalf of his estate, sued Dr. Robinson, alleging that he chose not evaluate Seng for a potential cardiac cause of his symptoms. Plaintiff alleged that he should have ordered an EKG and a blood test.
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In this medical malpractice jury case, a Cook County Circuit Court judge rejected a request by the plaintiff, Jill Bailey. She had requested a non-pattern jury instruction on “loss-of-chance.” The judge’s decision resulted in a reversal of a defense verdict. Bailey alleged that Jill Milton-Hampton died because of a delay in diagnosing her suffering from sepsis or toxic shock syndrome when she twice went to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital in Chicago.

The judge relied on the case of Cetera v. DiFilippo, 404 Ill.App.3d 20 (2020) for the decision to refuse the instruction. The judge was justified in concluding that the long-form version of the pattern jury instruction on proximate causation, Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction (Civil) No. 15.01, adequately explains the loss-of-chance doctrine.

The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District reversed a judgment for the four emergency room physicians and their employer, Emergency Medicine Physicians of Chicago (EMP). They disagreed with Cetera stating that IPI 15.01 “does not distinctly inform the jury about loss-of-chance, i.e., that the jury may consider, as a proximate cause of a patient’s injury, that a defendant’s negligence lessened the effectiveness of the treatment or increased the risk of an unfavorable outcome to a plaintiff.
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Anderson Fuentes, 47, had been diagnosed HIV-positive. He experienced severe back pain and an inability to urinate. He was admitted to Wycoff Heights Medical Center emergency room, where he was seen by an internist, Dr. Onyemachi Ajah. After Fuentes underwent drainage of his urine, Dr. Ajah attributed his pain to urine retention and scheduled Fuentes for discharge from the hospital.

Mr. Fuentes then began to experience difficulty walking and refused to leave the hospital. As a result, a CT scan was done, which showed a previously diagnosed herniated disk at L3-4.

Another physician, Dr. Theophine Abakporo, assumed Fuentes’s care and ordered a second CT scan. Dr. Abakporo also called for a neurological consultation, which was done several hours later.
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Robert Klein went to a hospital emergency room complaining of right flank pain, urinary burning, and blood in his urine. He was 48 years old at the time. A third-year resident, Dr. Lien Nguyen, ordered a CT scan. The CT scan results revealed kidney stones and a bladder mass.

Dr. Nguyen discharged Klein with instructions to see a urologist.

Over a year later, after Klein’s symptoms progressed, he underwent an ultrasound, which again showed a mass on his bladder. He was diagnosed with Stage III bladder cancer and underwent an unsuccessful procedure to remove the cancer. He later required removal of his entire bladder.
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Doe was 32 when he was taken to Roe Hospital’s emergency room suffering from abdominal distention, constipation and discomfort. There were a large number of patients in the emergency room at the time Doe came in. In the emergency department, Mr. Doe was brought to a hallway because of the overcrowding where hospital nurses attended to him. Over the course of several hours, Doe’s symptoms worsened. Hospital nurses administered a Fleet enema.

A later CT scan revealed that Mr. Doe had a bowel perforation. Surgery was considered but deemed to be too late. Mr. Doe suffered septic shock and then died a day later.

The lawsuit against the hospital alleged that it chose not to timely diagnose and treat Doe’s bowel perforation, which led to his untimely death. Before trial, the parties settled for $950,000.
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Samuel Chifalo, 63, fell and hit his head. An ambulance crew arrived and put a cervical collar on before taking him to Parkview Medical Center.

At the hospital, the staff noted that Chifalo had difficulty moving his arms and legs. Nevertheless, emergency room physician Dr. Ashley Ostrand did not document this condition after doing a physical exam and recording Chifalo’s medical history. The doctor ordered CT scans of Chifalo’s neck and head and discharged him from the hospital with a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.

The next day, Chifalo was unable to walk and returned to the emergency room at the same hospital. This time Dr. Ostrand ordered MRIs of his head and cervical and thoracic spinal cord regions. Chifalo was then diagnosed as having a spinal cord injury at C3-4 with quadriparesis. Despite rehabilitation, Chifalo continued to suffer from paralysis.
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Then 2-year-old Doe was taken to a children’s hospital after suffering a fall. A pediatric resident, Dr. James Prosser, set Doe’s fractured right arm and placed a cast on the arm. Later that day, Doe was returned to the hospital, where another physician examined him again and discharged him.

Doe’s parents took the child back to the same hospital a third time. This time the staff removed the child’s cast. This led to a diagnosis of compartment syndrome and Volkmann’s ischemic contracture.

Doe is now 19 years old and has a deformed and shortened right arm, scarring, and lost function in two of his fingers.
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